Whittled down to an unremarkable description, Death Match looks at a modern existence through the lens of sport to examine ideas of competition, victory, and defeat. It was an interesting piece from a talented group of young artists.
It begins in unassuming fashion, a runner barely on a court fixing her socks and shoes. She starts to run laps, but it’s an odd sort of running – a tepid jog. When another runner joins her, and their steps synchronise, you realise why. It’s for the beat of their steps, the steady drum of lives that – despite best intentions – will inexorably be in competition with each other.
Set Designer, Grace Ulrich has created a long playing court for the competition that eventuates. Throughout, the ensemble will move and turn off the sides like a bouncing puck in Pong. It’s one of the nice things about the piece, these smaller moments of craft and discovery, some of which will be filmed and shown live on the back wall – the subtext will be televised. Later, a half-time orange is consumed in the corner of the stage. It’s a tiny thing, yet in this tiny space, the smell envelopes everywhere and is utterly intoxicating.
A few times, the cast will exert themselves to the point of breathlessness. It’s a compelling state to be in, as the inability to draw a steady breath or stand up straight denies the actors any opportunity to perform or act in their usual, respective ways, gifting the audience with little pockets of authenticity.
Eventually, the notion of ‘Winning at Life’ is shown to be as empty a concept as a spotlight with no one standing in it. In the end, no one will stand in that golden light, because, in the end, all we have (if we’re fortunate) is each other.
Tower Theatre – The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Performance: Tuesday 3 October 2017 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 7 October 2017
Information and Bookings: www.malthousetheatre.com.au
Image: Earl Marrows, Aleeah Gabriel, Ursula Searle and Stephen Amos in Death Match – photo by David Sheehy